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Wall Street Fixer Goes to Washington

Nides followed Mack to Credit Suisse and then in his eventual return to Morgan Stanley. During two periods when Mack was out of a job, Nides served stints at Fannie Mae and PR firm Burson Marsteller, where he was CEO for nine months.

While he never brought in revenues, Nides proved himself valuable enough at Morgan Stanley to earn several million dollars a year, including $9 million in 2010. His decision to join the government allowed him to receive a cash bonus of $8.25 million--more than five times that of CEO Gorman, who, like other executive officers named in Morgan Stanley's proxy, had to settle for the rest of their bonus in the form of a "long-term incentive award," that will be paid out over several years.

While on Wall Street, Nides was a top fundraiser for Secretary of State Clinton's presidential campaign.

According to regulatory filings, Nides earned $17 million from 2008 to 2010, three of the most difficult years the nation has seen in many decades. Was his contribution really worth that much? Will he concede that people on Wall Street are overpaid? His voice rises a couple of octaves as he searches for an answer.

"I've been very lucky, okay? I've been very fortunate. I think I've had good mentors. I think I've worked pretty hard; I think I'm a pretty honest guy; I think I've got decent values, but am I going to say 'Oh my God, I'm worth every dime everyone's paid me?' That's ridiculous. None of these people are, including myself."

One former Wall Street colleague compares Nides to Winston Wolf, the "problem solver," played by Harvey Keitel in the movie Pulp Fiction, who helps a pair of assassins dispose of a bloody corpse in 40 minutes without so much as wrinkling his tuxedo.

Nides had his hands in everything from compensation to implementing strategy to interdepartmental disputes. "Any kind of sensitive personnel issue--Tom cleaned it all up," the executive says, "and no one ever knows he was there."

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